In the light of current events, Graduates of Democracy focuses on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As many people know, it is a violent and complex clash. This has been the case for almost 70 years and maybe even longer. Today it is not any different, violence rules the streets with many victims. Experts are nowadays even talking about a Third Intifada.
This conflict is also very much debated and discussed in Europe. Everyone has an opinion about it or tries to formulate one. This often leads to confusion and frustration. Many Palestinians and Israeli’s don’t feel understood by Europeans. Graduates of Democracy therefore invited two speakers, one Israeli and one Palestinian, to share their perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They get free space to share their opinion and what they think are the real causes.
The first author is Tom Wexler, a 25years old dentistry student from Tel Aviv.
About Right and Wrong
Incitement, def. – the action of provoking unlawful behavior or urging someone to behave unlawfully. This isn’t about left or right, this is about right and wrong. What is happening in Israel is an absolute catastrophe.
Over the past few weeks more than 35 attacks were committed by Palestinians throughout Israel, leaving 8 dead and over 100 wounded. The nature of these attacks is horrifying: parents gunned down in front of their children, a family getting stabbed on the street, people stoned and beaten. They even attacked an ambulance driver evacuating wounded Palestinians. But what shocked me the most was an attack by a 13 year old Palestinian on a 13 year old Jew – he stabbed him in the neck.
I am a 25 year old dentistry student. I served as a combat medic on the Gaza border. I grew up during the second Intifada, when suicide bombers were blowing themselves up on busses and in pizza places on a daily basis. I have seen a thing or two that most people would consider traumatizing or frightening, at the very least. But this shocked me.
I was saddened to see what incitement can do to children. How blinded by hate one could become. How come a 13 year old decides to murder someone?
Unfortunately there is incitement within Palestinian society that would shame Nazi Germany of 1939. There is widespread holocaust denial. They teach in mosques and in schools how Jews are “monkeys and pigs” (Quran 5:60) and how Tel-Aviv is conquered Palestinian territory and must be reclaimed, or how Jews plan to take over the world. Facebook pages of suicide bombers have thousands of ‘likes’ and social media is full of caricatures of Jews stabbed or hit by cars. There are shows on Palestinian television, which teach 5 year olds about the glories of martyrdom and about the necessity of killing Jews.
Now you might say: “Well hold on Tom, Israelis have done some pretty bad things too”. No doubt about it. Every war has war crimes, and surely fighting multiple wars against aggressors has led to terrible things. But the IDF does have the ability to kill all the Palestinians in one day. So what does that tell us? It tells us that when Israel harms innocent Palestinians it is almost certainly an accident, because they could kill everyone, and have not done so.
What do we know of the attackers? Palestinians have a long history of targeting innocent civilians – they kidnapped and murdered teenagers on their way home from school, they murdered Olympic athletes, they slaughtered entire families in their sleep. Using violence and intimidation in order to affect government policy is the dictionary definition of terrorism. Could you claim that these actions were committed by freedom fighters?
If the answer is yes, you can stop reading. There is nothing I can say to change your mind if you believe that the frustration of the Palestinians is an excuse for such horrendous attacks.
I agree that the Palestinians have suffered under the occupation. Even when serving strictly security purposes, it has caused great hardship to them. I strongly oppose Israel’s settlement policy in the West Bank, and like 70% of Israelis I support a two state solution. But there is simply no way to justify such attacks. I believe that if the Palestinians would have chosen a peaceful method, like Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi, they would have achieved most of their goals by now. If you think I am wrong, you have these two great men to argue with.
The problem is that the latest surveys show an overwhelming majority of Palestinians who don’t want peace with Israel. 93% of Palestinians hold strong anti-Semitic views according to the Anti-Defamation League. 81% believe it is ok to stab Israeli civilians, and although 53% support a two state solution, 70% would strive for the destruction of Israel even if there were a Palestinian state.
As Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, said: “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” This isn’t about left and right, this is about right and wrong. It is time to end the incitement.
The writer is a 25 years old dentistry student from Tel Aviv, served as a combat medic in the IDF and voted for Yesh Atid, a centrist party. He currently runs Ask Tom About Israel on Facebook.